Mead Lover's Digest #0832 Sat 16 December 2000


Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor



We now return you… (Mead Lovers Digest)
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 – Sack Mead ("Long, Karl")
Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 (
Re: Spices in metheglin (
Re: Old Recipe Question (Dan McFeeley)
Bottling Braggot re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 (JazzboBob@…)
Fining Meads: Re : Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 (JazzboBob@ao…)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 (
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 (
Reusing Yeast (holly)
Re:sack mead (Tim Bray)
RE: Agave Nectar Mead ("….Sherfey")
RE: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 ("Christopher Hadden")
Cleared but active air-lock? ("katticus")
bottle grenades (Russ Riley)
any danger? ("Tom O.")
Proposed Blueberry Mead Experiment ("Jack")


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Subject: We now return you...
From: (Mead Lovers Digest)
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 20:27:18 -0700 (MST)

We now return you to your irregularly scheduled Mead-Lover's Digest.
Sorry about the protracted interval since the last digest. It's a long

Mead-Lover's Digest
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor Boulder County, Colorado USA

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000 - Sack Mead
From: "Long, Karl" <>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 15:02:01 -0700

The reason you haven't seen any recipes for sack mead is because it is a
style of mead not a particular recipe. Like metheglin (spiced mead), piment
(grape mead) and hippocras (spiced piment), sack mead is a term for (unually
exceeding) sweet mead.

To make a sack mead, take ANY mead recipe and put in too much honey! Any
left over after the yeast quits will make the mead sweet.

Each yeast has a certain tolerance for alchohol. Ale and beer yeasts tend
to tolerate 6 or 7%, while wine yeasts will tolerate 10 – 12%. Champagne
yeast may tolerate up to 18% alchohol. The yeast will keep working, though
more slowely) as it approaches its alchohol tolerance.

If the amount of sugar is low enough, the yeast will run out of sugar before
reaching its alchohol tolerance level. In this case you get a very dry
mead, like a Champagne.

If the amount of sugar is high enough, the yeast will quit in the visinity
of the alchohol tolerance. Actually cut off depends on several factors,
including when and how the sugar was added. (A little at a time keeps the
yeast working longer.) Any sugar left in solution when the yeast stops is
residual sugar which sweetens the mead. A "normal" mead will have some
residual sugar but not alot. A small amount of residual sugar does not make
the mead taste sweet, just not dry.

A large amount of residual sugar will make the mead sweet. Sack mead is
very sweet.

One work of caution: You may have heard of the legendary mead hangovers.
If not, ask around. The hangovers may have something to do with the
combination of alchohol and residual sugar. Since sack mead has a lot of
residual sugar, I would suggest moderation when drinking it.

Anyway, welcome aboard.


Karl G. Long
Lindsay Brothers Mead
Fort Collins, Colorado

> ——————————
> Subject: sack mead
> From: Russ Riley <>
> Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 11:28:37 -0800 (PST)
> Anyway, I've been reading various mead websites
> recently, and a mead recipe I've yet to come across is
> a sack mead. I've only read a few past issues from
> this digest, so if it's been covered here I've missed
> it. However, various sites like The Bee's Lees and
> others, which are loaded with recipes, haven't a one.
> Has anyone ever brewed one before? The definition
> seems pretty loose, but overall I'm imagining an
> upwards of 4 lbs. honey per gallon, 15-20% abv,
> knock-you-on-your-derriere type of drink. I'm curious
> about what yeasts may be able to handle it, what
> nutrients/buffers/other special considerations may be
> necessary, etc.

Subject:  Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 20:02:24 EST

I just finished a bottle of "WAWEL" Polish Honey Wine… was excellent,
very similar to a heavily oaked cream sherry.

Does anybody have a recipe for a similar wine?

John Burtka

Subject: Re: Spices in metheglin
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 08:58:24 EST

P-O Gustafsson <> writes:
> I'm just starting up meadmaking and have some basic questions on how to
> make
> metheglins.
> I would appreciate some thoughts on the amount of spices and how they go
> together. Also how to best get the flavour out of them.

I once read a statement along the lines of "if it goes well in a baking
recipe, it goes well in mead". I've actually found that any herbs that go
well in any herbal tea will also go well in mead. That's how I'd suggest
determining compatibility and proportions – just start making tea! Write down
what you put in it, including the amounts. Keep the recipes you like, modify
or discard the rest…

As for preparation, different herbs will react differently. Delicate herbs,
such as jasmine, will not taste as good if you steep them too long – better
to steep more herb for a shorter time. Some herbs are okay to steep for a
long time, but not okay to boil. Some you can boil for a while. If you leave
the herbs in during fermentation, the alcohol will extract more constituents
from the herbs, both in quantity and variety (i.e., you'll get a stronger
flavor, and perhaps a more complex flavor). The more complex flavor is not
always a desireable thing.

Other people will probably make suggestions about recipes they've used. You
can also go through trial and error. It may be easier to post requests for
feedback or experience with particular herbs if you have a recipe (or part of
a recipe) in mind. You'll also likely get good suggestions from an herbalist.

  • Joshua

Subject: Re: Old Recipe Question
From: Dan McFeeley <>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 18:51:57 -0600

On Mon, 27 Nov 2000, in MLD 832, Phillipa wrote:

>I am researching about a historical mead recipe and hope someone out
>there can help out with ingredients and suggestions for suitable yeasts
>to use.
>The mead is called Brushka, the spelling may differ. It was brewed in
>the Ukraine/China area. It was known to cause the drinker to be semi
>paralysed in the legs after a few glasses. It is an old drink that was
>brewed for 1000's(?) years. It was known as a health or tonic drink.

You can try subscribing to the historical-brewing list and asking there.
There are a lot of knowledgable people there who are well versed in
old brewing/vinting/etc. methods who might recognize it. Send e-mail
to with the words "subscribe hist-brewing" to get
on board ("subscribe hist-brewing-digest" if you want the digest form)
and try asking there. If there are any problems, drop an e-note to

Let us know what you find out!

Dan McFeeley

Subject: Bottling Braggot re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 23:11:42 EST

You don't mention if your 750ml bottles are Champagne type or wine bottles.
Never bottle sparkling meads in regular wine bottles that aren't designed to
withstand the pressure or you will have serious problems.
I'd recommend that you wait until your meads are completely fermented out and
then prime with corn sugar and fresh yeast for a predictable result. I've
found priming with honey to be less reliable and sometimes causes cloudiness.

Bottling still fermenting mead and hoping you guessed that the right amount
of residual sugar remaining is the proper amount to get the job done is quite
unreliable. You might get flat mead or gushers and bombs in the worst case
scenario. Sometimes, I have an aged sweet mead come back to life in the
bottle and cause a pleasant natural carbonation. But I never would plan on
it. Usually, I just keg the meads that I want to be sparkling and force
carbonate with CO2.
There was an article in Zymurgy many years ago that discussed priming sugar
and ways to test the residual sugar remaining in the brew using a diabetes
kit. I seem to remember that you basically need to raise the specific
gravity around 4 or 5 points at bottling to get proper carbonation. Perhaps
this is why meads can so easily become carbonated after bottling. That's not
much of a shift if you bottle to soon and get some further fermentation.
Bob Grossman

<< The batch of Braggot is still also awaiting bottling in the carboy. I
on adding a little more sweet to carbonate it. So should I stick to its
natural sugars honey/malt or us corn sugar. the first two cannot change the
falvor but the corn sugar is very precise in its cabonating effect. So what
do use guys think?
PS I'm supposed to get a care package of 200-250 ea 750 ml bottles. This
weekend so I should be able to progress shortly.


Subject: Fining Meads: Re : Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 23:23:24 EST

I have had good experience using Sparkolloid to clear meads. It easy to use
and fast to settle. It works with straight honey meads or fruit melomels.
Sometimes just sitting in a cold place will work naturally to settle out
things too.
If your not in any hurry, let it sit thru the cold winter and bottle in the
spring. I have quite a few meads in storage that drop extremely clear with
time. Then I just bottle directly from the secondaries and skip a final
racking. I keep the few last bottles separate from the main bottles. The
main bottles are completely sediment free and I simply drink the few odd
bottles myself.
Bob Grossman

<< I made a slurry of the bentonite with 500 mls or so
of water and mixed it into the carboy 48 hours ago. It has settled to
the bottom of the carboy, but the mead is still cloudy. It tastes great
and I am about to give up on the clarity and just bottle it. Any
suggestions? >>

Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 23:38:37 EST

Why would you expect concentrated agave nectar syrup to taste like tequila?
Does malt extract taste like beer or honey taste like mead? They are the
concentrated fermentable sources that these beverages are brewed from. It's
quite a process to make Tequila and the characteristic tastes and aromas are
derived and developed in many ways.
Now, I have brewed a Pulque type mead from agave nectar. The taste is
vaguely reminiscent of Tequila. I remember that it had an unusual dry floral
aroma. It's an interesting mead, but not one of my favorites. I have to get
over a cold or I'd try one now to give a better description.
I definitely liked my Prickly Pear Mead much better.

I used 3# Agave Nectar Extract, 6# Desert Cactus Honey, juice from 3 lemons,
and a bit of yeast nutrients with fresh ale yeast slurry. OG was 1.090 and
FG was 1.030.
Bob Grossman

Subject: Agave Nectar Anyone?
From: "Jayne & Steve Robb" <>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 22:49:42 -0500

My local homebrew supply shop just got in some Agave nectar. Has anyone
experimented with using this stuff in a mead? If so, in what proportion to
the overall batch size? How did it turn out? To me, the raw nectar tastes
more like molasses than the tequila flavor I was expecting.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000 00:30:00 -0600 (CST)

The question regarding sack mead is a good one. The ones that I have
fermenting now have 3lb. per gallon. I know this fits the definition
of a regular sort of sweet mead, but these have been fermenting for
over 2 years now. Both were started with Wyeast dry mead yeast, and
are dropping maybe .002 points of gravity per 2-3 months. I added Red
Star Champagne yeast to one, but the gravity of each is progressing
about the same rate.
I think that a couple of ideas may work well with meads this heavy.
1) Start with less honey per gallon and ferment nearly to
completeion. Add more honey after racking (take specific gravities
before and after addition. Total change in these gravities should
give an alcohol value if you are calculating)
2) Oxygenate thoroughly before the initial fermentation begins. This
will lead to healthier and more plentiful yeast.
3) Pitch a lot of yeast. A starter of at least a gallon after about
2 days would give a good pint or so of slurry for a 5 gallon batch.
More would be better.
4) Use a good champagne yeast, (I'm told sherry or port yeasts will
also work). I used to use Red Star Champagne yeast, but now I use
Lalvin EC-1118 because I'm told it has a higher alcohol tolerance.

I'm in the midst of making an elderberry "port" wine this way, i wish
I would have done this with the sack meads I started.

Jim Johnston,

just making sense of mankind and mead

Subject: Reusing Yeast
From: holly <>
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000 11:09:40 -0500 (EST)

I have heard some people here talk about reusing old yeast, or
creating yeast cultures that get used and cultivated for a long time.
Can anyone provide any more details on this?



Subject: Re:sack mead
From: Tim Bray <>
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 12:21:10 -0800

>Also, what does a mazer look like? Any pictures of one
>on the web?

Shows a pair of reproduction mazers made by a modern jeweler.

Mazers in general are wooden bowls, broader than deep, traditionally of
maple. Fancy ones are footed and covered, often with silver mounts.

Tim Bray
Albion, CA

Subject: RE: Agave Nectar Mead
From: "....Sherfey" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 18:52:14 -0500

There is a simple recipe on the Maltose Falcons website that took BOS for Todd Etzel at one of their
competitions this year. 6 lbs sage honey to 6 lbs agave nectar to make
three gallons @ 1.130. 1 tsp each of acid blend and yeast nutrient, and
fermented with cote des blancs yeast. Well recommended and certainly worth
a try.

David Sherfey
Warwick, NY

Subject: RE: Mead Lover's Digest #831, 5 December 2000
From: "Christopher Hadden" <>
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 20:36:22 -0600

> Subject: fining with bentonite
> From:
> Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 18:56:42 -0800
> I tried using Bentonite this last weekend to clear a mead that has
> been in a glass carboy now for a total of about 6 months. The 2.5
> gallon batch consisted of 7 pounds of local unfiltered and un
> pasteurized wildflower honey, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1 tsp yeast
> nutrients, and red star champagne yeast. This batch was fermented
> over the peak of the summer heat which was as high as 100+F. It's
> been sitting in the carboy now for about 2 months with no activity but
> still not cleared. I made a slurry of the bentonite with 500 mls or so
> of water and mixed it into the carboy 48 hours ago. It has settled to
> the bottom of the carboy, but the mead is still cloudy. It tastes great
> and I am about to give up on the clarity and just bottle it. Any
> suggestions?
> Larry Cazes

Try sparkolloid. An owner of a commercial meadery once told me that
bentonite doesn't work with mead but sparkolliod does. Can anyone confirm

Christopher Hadden

Subject: Cleared but active air-lock?
From: "katticus" <>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 11:41:32 -0500

Hello Fellow Mead Brewers,
First I just wanted to say thanks for all the feedback I got from you all
with my last question. It really helped me to have patience and wait. I'm
still waiting (4 months later) and now I've got a cleared mead that is still
actively fermenting. About 1 bubble every 3 minutes. Is this normal or am I
faced with a secondary fermentation? The "Lees" are not the cloudy residue
that they have been, it's a kinda stringy substance with some small
particles suspended just above it (though it is just a straight honey, water
mead). The taste at last racking had improved but it still had carbonation
like a champagne (of course, that's the yeast I used too). This is my first
mead and so I'm a little ignorant of what to expect and do appreciate any
and all feedback I get. Thanks for the advice in advance and WASSAIL for the

Subject: bottle grenades
From: Russ Riley <>
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 11:14:51 -0800 (PST)

I think I may have potential bottle grenades on my
hands. I bottled a fairly sweet still mead a few
months ago (OG=1.110, FG=1.024) which, as recent as
two weeks ago, was still non-carbonated. Last night, I
opened a bottle and SURPRISE — carbonated! It still
has a ways to go before it gets to the point of beer
or even champagne, but because of the rather high
final gravity (lots of sugar left) I want to try to
stop the carbonation from building high enough to blow
up my bottles.
The only solution I can think of is to pasteurise the
bottles, killing the yeast. Does anyone have any other
ideas? Has anyone here ever pasteurised bottles
before, and if so, how did you do it (oven, hot
water)? Any chance of the heat forcing too much CO2
out of solution and blowing the bottles up while I
pasteurise them? Lastly, I'm afraid of how this might
affect the taste of the mead (not as afraid as I am of
glass shrapnel traveling at high speeds, however!).
Any thoughts? Thanks.

Russ Riley

Subject: any danger?
From: "Tom O." <>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 11:18:01 -0500

Hi all,

Get ready for a real newbie question: I am completely new to mead

making in general and have a question concerning safety.
Is there anything that can go wrong in the fermentation process that could
render the batch not only bad, but dangerous to drink?

I assume that if a bacterial infection took hold or wild yeast strains

invaded the batch I would know immediately upon tasting.
What should one look for when racking and tasting for the first time? (And
for that matter, when should the mead be tasted?)

Thanks for the help,

Tom Ostrow

Subject: Proposed Blueberry Mead Experiment
From: "Jack" <>
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 18:36:55 -0500

Blueberry Mead Experiment

I am getting ready to put this years Blueberry Mead away for bulk
aging. I made 12 gallons in 4, 3-gallon carboys. I am going to
bottle one batch (because I just can't wait) and stash the rest away
where I won't be able to see that beautiful purple liquid calling
to me. I am no expert (well maybe at eating blueberries) but I
thought this years berries and the resulting mead were excellent.
So naturally I am beginning to think of next year. Which brings me
to my point.

The MLD contains many technique debates, add fruit at the beginning,
add to the secondary, boil, don't boil, sorbate yes/no. You get the
idea. So I am offering to make several batches of blueberry mead
using various techniques, and then submit the results to the Mazer
Cup to for judging and comment. What I am hoping for is some lively
debate about the techniques and the variations between now and the
blueberry harvest. Then I'll pick the berries and report the progress
as appropriate.

So for those of you who might be interested I'll offer a base-starting
recipe for comment and see where the debate takes us.

Blueberry Mead (Proposed Batch 1)
3 Gallons water
9 Pounds Blueberries
9 Pounds raw light honey
Cote Des Blancs yeast

Day 1:
Freeze the berries, and start the yeast in honey water.
Day 2:
In a 5 gallon stainless steel pan boil 3 gallons of water
Add frozen blueberries (the water temperature will immediately drop
to about 100 degrees. Add honey while bringing mixture temp back
to 145 degrees. Once the mixture has reaches 145 degrees. Cover and
let drop to room temperature (generally overnight)
Day 3:
When at room temperature (the next morning) pour must into a 5
gallon food grade bucket pitch the yeast and cover with a cloth.
Day 10:
Rack must to a 3 gallon glass carboy saving extra must in smaller
containers for topping off.
Day 40: (Approximately, when most of the fermentation has stopped)
Rack, sweeten, top off
Day 160: (Approximate)
Rack, sweeten (if necessary), and move to long-term aging.

Some of the more obvious variations would be to add the fruit at day
10 or day 40. This recipe also does not use campden tablets. We
could also try a different type of yeast. I'd like to keep the whole
process at least somewhat scientific by trying not to vary more that
one item from batch to batch.

Well I've said enough, I await everyone's feedback

Jack R. Flint

End of Mead Lover's Digest #832